The bacteria that sickened 25 people in Whatcom County has been traced to a dairy barn on the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds, an investigation by county, state and federal health officials has concluded.
“All of the ill people either attended the Milk Makers Fest between April 21 and 23 at the Northwest Fairgrounds; helped with the event between April 20 and 24; or were close contacts of people associated with the event,” according to a final report on the outbreak released by the Whatcom County Health Department.
“Most of the ill people were children, including older children who helped with the event. More than 1,000 children from primary schools in Whatcom County attended the event on these days,” report said..
The bacteria, a virulent form of the bacteria Esherichia coli, called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe diarrhea and in some cases a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, that can lead to kidney failure. Contamination of the fairgrounds most likely occurred before the Milk Makers Fest.
Investigators identified 25 people confirmed cases:
- 9 of these cases were considered secondary cases (the ill person didn’t attend the event but had close contact with someone who did attend).
- 10 people were hospitalized.
- 6 people developed HUS.
No one died as a result of the outbreak.